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Waugh, Evelyn

Waugh, Evelyn (1903–66). Novelist and satirist whose early books Decline and Fall (1928) and Vile Bodies (1930) chronicle the doings of the Bright Young Things at Oxford and after with an ironic detachment approaching the grotesque. He consolidated his reputation with more material drawing on his own experience, in A Handful of Dust (1934), of a harrowing divorce; in Scoop (1938) as war correspondent in Africa; but the central event in his life was conversion to Roman catholicism in 1930. Though middle-class himself, son of a successful publisher, like the narrator of Brideshead Revisited (1945) he cultivated the aristocracy and the old order assailed by contemporary vulgarity. If his latter-day persona as irascible country gentleman sometimes verged on self-parody, in The Sword of Honour trilogy (1962) he convinces us that the concept is more than another name for snobbery.

John Saunders

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